As the months move closer to spring, small businesses are getting ready to let their marketing plans thaw out by preparing for spring initiatives to bring in new customers, drive engagement, and push competitors out of the arena.
Since spending is at a low around the holidays and throughout tax season, taking advantage of the downtime to plan for new ways to reach your audience as a small business can pay off big time when the sun is out and customers and clients are ready to buy.
Follow along as we explore a number of promotions that your small business can take advantage of as you begin to plan and create a marketing plan for the year.
Planning the Perfect Promotions
What types of promotions you plan for the new season depend heavily on what your business goals are: are you trying to build awareness, or are you more interested in sales? While carefully planned and strategically executed promotions can help you in multiple areas, it’s good to start with a focal point.
To choose a promotion that best suits your needs, ask yourself the following:
- Am I trying to make room for new inventory?
- Do I want to focus primarily on brand awareness?
- Am I trying to find new clients or customers?
Once you understand what you are aiming to achieve, you can then tailor your marketing plans to suit your goals and choose a promotion to proceed with.
Picking a Promotion
Now you need to pick a promotion that suits your goals, budget, and abilities—no small feat. It’s important to decide how much you are willing to spend and if you will be preparing for the initiative yourself or if you will recruit outside help from a marketing firm or consultant.
Potential promotions include:
Discounts. Discounts are a common and often successful promotion. They are used to move inventory, create buzz about new products, and to bring new customers into your store or to your website. They can include anything from a “buy one get one” deal to a discount off of the original price.
The only thing that you need to be careful of is how much you spend getting the word out, versus how much you lose by offering a lower price. If you offer too deep of a discount, and spend a lot of money on advertising, you may end up in the negative.
When creating a promotion like this, try to be creative instead of doing what every other retailer is doing. You can spice things up by having flash discounts (for example, one hour only) or by setting limits, such as “the first ten customers get 25% off”.
Contests. Who hasn’t entered a content at some point? They are popular with almost every type of business and can help you to create goodwill with your customers. Consider teaming up with another business to offer a cross-discount, such as you giving away their product or service as a prize and vice-versa.
You can also hold skills-based contests like design, writing, or photography that you can use to benefit your business.
This can create networking opportunities for you and spread your name out to a whole new audience.
Referrals. Everyone loves to get referrals from satisfied customers. It’s always appreciated, especially when that referral actually brings in a sale. So why not encourage your clients and customers to spread the word?
Offering rewards for referrals is a great way to get new clients, and to create relationships with existing ones. Just be sure to choose rewards that are attainable for your clients, but that they won’t be able to take advantage of.
A good balance is to say that for every new person they refer, they will receive a small gift card or a discount on a product or service.
Community events. While many promotions are targeted towards bringing in new customers, the power of branding should not be overlooked. Participating in or sponsoring community events can help to get the word out about your business, and people who associate you with those events will remember you next time they need what you offer.
Community events may not always bring in immediate profit, but they create a feeling of legitimacy, trust, and personality surrounding your brand, which only helps you to dig your roots in a little deeper as a business in your city or town.
Another community event to consider is a fundraiser hosted by your business. Get in touch with your local food bank, animal shelter, or other charity of your choice and plan an event that benefits both of you.
Freebies. Free stuff is always a good way to go. Whether it is product samples, free merchandise, or just bonuses for every so many dollars spent. Free items and samples can encourage people to buy the product for themselves or for friends if they like it.
It can also create a feeling of trust between customers and your business as they feel secure in knowing that they can try your product or service without committing to a purchase.
Guerilla marketing. For those with a small budget but big ideas, guerilla marketing is the way to go. Guerilla marketing encompasses unconventional and hyper-creative techniques that can be highly successful. Think the “Share a Coke” campaign.
You should be careful of making sure you are within the law for any unconventional campaigns, and your planning and execution need to be perfect in order to pull off a campaign like this. Only undertake this kind of promotion if you are confident in your plan.
Planning for Progress
Whatever kind of promotion you choose to plan for in the coming months, make sure that it meets a specific goal. Hosting a promotion just for the sake of trying one can often turn out to be underwhelming, but by planning ahead, you can target your audience and make progress towards your goals.
What promotions do you have planned for the coming year?